back to article BT's gift to Google: A patent war over ads and Android

It's open season now. BT is the latest company to sue Google, alleging patent infringement, but this latest barrage extends beyond Google's Android software - it touches to other Google services too. These include maps, music, social networking and its advertising services, including Adwords, claims BT. Although only the six …


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  1. Efros
    Paris Hilton

    Titmuss 1 & 2

    didn't realize the Leslie shagger was so involved in Tech, suppose GPS guidance may be useful in directing various objects towards various orifices.

    Paris cos we aint got no Abi.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh well...

    ...makes a change for a British company to go after a US one....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      British Bulldog spirit?

      Apple tip toe around suing everyone BUT Google even though Google is the one they want. BT just go right for the jugular... either that or BT have lost the will to live and are trying to commit suicide.

  3. alain williams Silver badge

    Wrong business BT

    Please concentrate on providing us with a top class telephone service rather than make money through the use of lawyers.

    1. Benny

      Ah but

      just think, if they win, then all that money they end up with will mean they can build a super-fantastic fiber network...

    2. Eponymous Cowherd


      Please provide us with and acceptable telephone service rather than waste money trying to sue Google.

    3. spiderwebby

      They're probably trying to make up the profits lost due to their shoddy broadband.

    4. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      @Alain Williams

      Be reasonable!

      BT, please attempt to provide a basic working infrastructure that even a second-year CS Uni student could manage to put together in his spare time plus some vague assemblance of customer care. One that involves actually getting to speak to someone human within 5 minutes of calling the help line and who doesn't simply fob you off with, "Sorry, can't help you with that, call such and such on this number I'll give you."!!!

  4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    No-one reads patents before releasing a product

    Patent offices grant thousands of invalid patents every month. Not even google has enough money to read them all, find the one or two that are actually valid and create work arounds for them. The old solution was to get a stack of invalid patents of your own to cross licence. That does not work against trolls. In Oracle verses Google, Oracle did their best to hide which patents were at stake. The judge ordered Oracle to identify a small number of patents to go to trial, and if anything survives re-examination, Oracle can try again with more patents. The vast majority of Oracle's claims have already been invalidated. Now BT wants to have their patents trashed too.

    The whole idea of working via a troll is that a troll can declare bankruptcy to avoid paying fines for barratry. Oracle and BT have money, so they will have to pay up eventually.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe not at your company

      But let me clarify that many others - maybe more serious - do check.

      There's a world of patent databases and search tools like Innography to help with this.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @+++ath0 - No quite so!

        That database you mention lists only claims. You will need lawyers and a court to find out if each patent is valid. Can your company do this for let's say 1000 patents while staying away from bankruptcy or is your company paying anyone who has registered a patent claim ?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe not at your company

        "But let me clarify that many others - maybe more serious - do check."

        Can even the likes of Google - King of Search! - realistically check for every vaguely worded scribble that passes for a supposedly relevant patent these days? How much time is everyone supposed to spend on trawling through mountains of filings so as not to otherwise infringe on someone's "moment of genius" by accident, just by applying the process of logical deduction in their work? Instead of doing a day's work, are we all supposed to spend weeks trawling through patents with the company lawyers before finally getting sued by a patent we didn't even spot?

        If I were you I'd hold off on the "we're more serious than you and Google undertones" unless you're making claims about your legal department, and even then I doubt that your company's lawyers are more serious than Google's.

        The opinion expressed in the article that Google somehow "deserve" to be sued doesn't bear scrutiny - not really a surprise given the author's desperate attempt to fling mud at Google at every turn - but BT, whose business appears to be about delivering mediocre service despite having a huge advantage as an incumbent and scrawling their name on other people's achievements on the basis of some "great ideas" from their employees (who, in the case of the "hyperlink patent", were rewarded in a miserly manner), deserve to be taken to the cleaners.

      3. ratfox

        They check? I doubt it

        In the US, over 100'000 patents are granted each year. That is roughly 400 patents per work day. Assuming you can read a patent in five minutes, that is eight people who do nothing but check patents. And somehow they have to know what the whole company is doing and find out if this particular patent is breached ­– which should take days of work to a patent lawyer to have an opinion on. Now tell me again that there are companies who check for all possible patents they might infringe upon.

        It does not help that patents are generally written in a language that engineers do not understand:

        So realistically, it is impossible to both have the engineering knowledge to create a new product, and the legal knowledge to find out on what patents you are infringing; even though you can be almost certain that no matter what you do, you are infringing on some of them.

  5. b166er

    Alain, all wrong! Please provide us with a top class internet service and stick your telephone up your arse!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    when I worked at the research labs I was told 'We don't do innovation any more' as they closed down projects that, 20 years down the line, would make headline news if BT put the products on the market now.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Location based advertising

    ... wasn't that one of Apples?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why wait till now?

    Did BT just wake up and realise Google might be infringing?

  9. Asgard

    Looks like a patent infringement Chain reaction?

    This is starting to look like a Chain Reaction process which is spreading throughout the telecoms industry, as they fight for position.

    I guess the pressure has been building for years. For a start we have the survival pressure of the consolidating telecoms industry (not least of which highlighted by the loss of two major Operating Systems this year, ie. Symbian and Palm) which is further being exacerbated by the survival pressure of the recession. Added to this, we have the insanity of the fundamentally broken patent system which has for years created effectively a Mutual Assured Destruction feedback loop arms race, where companies feel they have to build huge arsenals of patents to fend off other companies patent arsenals. It all looks like we are now reaching a perfect storm critical mass, where spontaneous litigation is self-sustaining.

    Makes me wonder how far this Chain Reaction can spread before it burns itself out?

    2011 has already been a landmark year not least of which the loss of two major Operating Systems, but we also have RIM on the ropes, Nokia shot itself in both feet and Motorola Mobility got assimilated by Google. Meanwhile we have Microsoft slowly waking up to the very unfamiliar problem of rapidly becoming sidelined into an almost unthinkable 3rd place, by the incredible growth of mobile operating systems becoming far more widespread. Its all changing and so fast.

    I think we need a popcorn icon. :)

    2012 looks like its going to be very interesting, although more than a bit worrying not knowing which way to go job wise, but its certainly going to be interesting.

    Anyway as we don't have a popcorn icon, here's the drink icon. Cheers and Merry Christmas to all of us technology news watchers. :)

    1. Schultz

      Natural development

      The companies hired all those lawyers to play the great patent game. At some point someone was bound to ask them to earn their salary.

      So now they give it a shot, earning money the way they were trained to do - by litigation. It may take a while (and quite some legal fees) to separate predator from prey and figure out if there is economic value in all those technology patents.

  10. Colin Millar
    Thumb Up

    Should be fun

    Given BT's previous extortionist efforts on the hyperlink and Googles form as the world's biggest IP thief I guess were going to see who wins in the battle of Pirates vs The Mafia

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Colin Millar - Aside from your personal beliefs

      can you please point us to a final court decision convicting Google for IP theft ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I think you'll find that Google Books is the world largest ever IP theft. Don't need a court to tell you the sky is blue, do you?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Robert Long 1 - As seen from my window right now

          the sky is pretty much gray which happens to be my opinion too, so I guess we'll have to call the lawyers. Now you get it ?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Sky is still blue (assuming it's day time) - it's the clouds that are gray.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @AC 23:01GMT - I'm letting you know that

              I intend to vigorously defend my opinion in court. Be there!

  11. Gio Ciampa

    BT becomes DT?

    Don't remember them moving their head office abroad...

    ...or did the courts here not give them the time of day? (Sponsored by Accurist, or whoever it is these days)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where's the MS connection?

    Looking back at history this makes perfect sense if BT also has made commitments to promote WP and other MS products.

  13. Frank 2


    ...cue loads of freetards explaining how this is a conspiracy by MS & Apple to stifle St Google, and has nothing to do with Google stealing ip from technology companies to try and sell their adverts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, it's just a bunch of anti-competitive rival corporations miffed that Google is eating their lunch. And the connection between BT and Microsoft? Well, both companies have partnered closely before, you know. Or maybe you don't know - no conspiracy required to make that observation.

  14. Manu T

    Nice find Andrew. I totally agree with that last remark you make (and unfortunatly I am a cynic).

    Problem is that all telcos are bullies. Especially in their native place of origin. BT sucks in Britain yet BT overseas is much better... euhm.. tolerated.

    The same with KPN (the Dutch telco) or Belgacom (the belgian telco). Similar comments are also heard on France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom (better known abroad as T-Mobile). We're all living in a mess and yet they dare to speak of global communications. I guess it's a miracle that we even have electricity these days.

    Oh well. My DSL-line is working for now so the rost hasn't completely rotted the telephonecable (yet) that's been burried underground 100 years ago.

  15. Gerrit Hoekstra

    This alleged IP belongs to the UK taxpayer!

    This alleged IP is based on all the R&D effort dating from before BT was 'privatised'. So if BT wins this claim (not bloody likely!), it is only right that they apportion the proceeds to the original IP owners: you and me by way of the UK treasury.

    Are the UK's economic woes over thanks to a ruling against Google, I wonder?

    1. John Sager

      BT was privatised in 1984

      And the earliest priority dates are in 1994.

    2. Tom 38

      I don't understand your 'quotes'

      BT was privatised, not 'privatised'. It was actually sold, for a pretty fair price (and in a large part, the shares were bought by ordinary people) and after that point, we can't really complain about them monetizing the assets we sold them.

      OTOH if they did have a $50bn judgement (unlikely), there could easily be a special 'YouJustSuedGoogleAndWon" windfall tax.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why only Google?

    Don't tell me that Apple and RIM are not infringing... Is it an easier target?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT can sue who they like...

    but they're still a shit company with shit engineers and shit service. Now they've got a shit lawsuit too.

    Funny how BT have had all these great ideas patented for years and done fuck all squared with them, isn't it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      BT have experience of having your computer stuff taken without your consent...

      You might say they have Phorm in that area. See they didn't like it anymore than we did.

      >but they're still a shit company with shit engineers and shit service.

      Amen brother!

  18. Chris Hunt

    According to the BBC, one of the alleged infringements is "Google Maps ability to make different information available at different levels of zoom". I think Google might point to every map ever drawn by anyone, ever, by way of prior art.

  19. Local Group

    Be very careful opening that can of worms, will you?

    View from down under.

  20. cd

    New Product

    Google Patent Search

  21. Ebeneser
    Thumb Up

    Looking for my bonus...

    Some smart arse has hatched this as the only way he'll make a bonus in 2012/13

    Only problem is the suckers at the top of BT fell for it ... probably out of desperation.

    BT have been screwing the British public for decades, obviously times are hard, and its time to diversify into screwing companies that have pots of cash as well... normally when this happens it takes about 3 to 5 years before they realise they've pissed away hundreds of millions in legal fees with no discernable gain, and the original people who came up with the action have left and gone back to Oracle.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "promote WP and other MS products."

    What software is inside the BT Vision set top boxes?

    How many other set top box products around the world are based around that software?

    Was that software selected on its engineering and technical merits, or was it a product forced in by a deal made at CEO level, by a software vendor desperate to get at least one success story for its failing STB strategy?

    Can you tell who it is yet?

    Just askin', like.

  23. P. Lee

    Reading patents is dangerous

    Willful infringement => triple damages IIRC

    I'm not sure due diligence helps at all these days - there will always be a patent problem when it comes to software.

    I know this isn't how the system works, but morally, if you come up with an idea on your own you shouldn't have to pay someone-else to use it. I know that's pretty much impossible to enforce in law. :(

    I suspect BT are going for legal-fight fatigue - hoping Google will settle just to clear its plate of some legal problems, or some lawyer at BT is hoping to make a name for themselves.

    Perhaps the patent office should be paid per application, not per patent granted (maybe that's already the case). It should also have discretion to throw the patent applications back with, "this should be a trade secret, not a patent" response for things which are trivial, like the smiley patents.

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